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Former South African Speaker Arrested in Corruption Investigation

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Following a corruption investigation, South Africa’s ex-parliament speaker was taken into custody on Thursday, marking the latest scandal to impact the ruling African National Congress party just before the upcoming elections in May.

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who resigned from her speaker position on Wednesday, surrendered to authorities near Pretoria and was subsequently arrested, according to prosecutors.

The ANC stalwart is set to be formally charged with corruption and money laundering after appearing before a judge, stated Henry Mamothame, a spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority, to AFP.

“She will be presenting herself at the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court,” Mamothame confirmed.

With less than two months until the national elections, this development has further beset the ANC, which is grappling with both poor poll ratings due to a fragile economy and widespread allegations of official corruption and mismanagement.

Mapisa-Nqakula becomes the most recent senior ANC figure, alongside the president and vice president, to be embroiled in corruption affairs.

She faces accusations of seeking substantial bribes from a former military contractor during her tenure as defense minister.

Mapisa-Nqakula refutes these claims.

– Letter of Resignation –

On the day she lost her legal challenge to prevent potential arrest, Mapisa-Nqakula resigned from her parliamentary role and membership with immediate effect on Wednesday.

In her resignation letter, she professed her innocence but opted to step down to preserve the parliament’s integrity and focus on the ongoing inquiry against her.

“Given the gravity of the widely-publicized accusations against me, I am unable to continue in this capacity,” she asserted.

Her resignation followed a raid in March by an elite investigative team at Mapisa-Nqakula’s upscale Johannesburg residence.

Local reports suggest she allegedly sought 2.3 million rand ($121,000) in bribes from the military contractor.

Her deputy, Lechesa Tsenoli, will assume her duties, as confirmed by parliament.

However, the Democratic Alliance, the primary opposition party, urged for the prompt election of a new speaker on Thursday.

Mapisa-Nqakula held the defense minister post from 2014 to 2021 before assuming the speaker role, a move heavily criticized by the opposition.

Previously, she faced severe backlash for what was perceived as inept handling of fatal unrest that led to over 300 casualties.

South Africans will cast their votes in the national and provincial elections on May 29.

It is anticipated that the ANC’s vote share may dip below 50% for the first time since the realm of democracy in 1994, potentially necessitating coalition partnerships with rival factions to retain power.

AFP

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